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In a recent video segment for HuffPo Live 321 scholar Marc Lamont Hill talked to Urban Cusp founder and theologian Rahiel Tesfamariam, media journalistic Jawn Murray, ESPN’s Jason Page, and HuffPo Entertainment Editor Christopher Rosen about why athletes and artists thank God for winning awards.

Hill half-jokes the practice might be cultural, since he’s noticed that more blacks do thank God for awards than other races, at least as it relates to music or film/TV. In sports, it’s pretty common across the board. He also notes that thanking God occurs more often when a personality has “hit rock bottom” or is attempting a comeback.

Tesfamariam believes God would be pleased with the thanks he receives, as it publicly acknowledges what God has done. “We can’t ever really make sense of goodness and judgment in human terms in the same way that God does in divine terms,” she asserts. For his part, Murray just thinks thanking God should be saved for “church appropriate” wins. (Hill sites Three Six Mafia’s Oscar win for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” as a church-inappropriate God-thanking.)

Though the video is lighthearted, it’s interesting to examine why it’s so off-putting to thank God for accomplishments that may be perceived as “not God-ordained.” When a sports team wins an important game and the player thanks God either for the win or for being with them as they played, some argue that those statements insinuate God wasn’t with the others or didn’t want them to win. When musicians thank God for their parental advisory-bearing album’s Grammy wins, people quip about how God doesn’t support the content.

But these thanks are less about God’s intent or performance and more about the person’s belief system. If she believes her faith causes her to have confidence in her eventual success, when she accomplishes a goal, she also believes her faith and her God deserve credit for that success.

What do you think? Should rappers, athletes, and actors stop thanking God for their wins if their songs or performances aren’t “church-appropriate”? 

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  • Ribbon

    I remember Tebow thanking God in January for helping him make 316 yards. His fans were sending praises up along with him.

    That same day, I drove past a horrific accident in which both cars were completely crushed. I highly doubt those people made it out alive. I guess God was too busy watching football.

  • JJean

    I say this in love..sometimes conversation on faith can get people all riled..But the issue I believe is when rappers/athletes especially rappers gives the impression that God endorses such songs and such behavior..What he gives us is grace and mercy to repent not to keep on doing what we doing ..Why would God be pleased with us thanking him, when we are using the gift that He has blessed us with to glorify self and our sinful nature?? No please do not be the deceived.. you recognize a tree by its fruits.. in this case you recognize an artists/athletes’ relationship with God by their love for God and others..and yes that does include the words/ song lyrics that come out of their mouths.. and any athlete who thanks God regardless if he or she wins or not shows character in my book!

    Side note: Please be sure to read the entire chapter of before using a scripture to support your argument people tend to contextualize scripture and not read the chapter in its entirety. i.e…1 Thessalonians 5:18

    :) Hope this wansn’t too Christianese lol

    • MurkyEarth

      This is what I agree with. God want’s us to use the gifts He gives to glorify but if you’re singing a song about screwing, killing and pimping and then turn around to thank God for the success of those things, then you’re being a hypocrite and God doesn’t want those sorts of Thanks.